Why Your Hiring Process Keeps Missing Candidates' Character Flaws [1]

In a captivating article for Fast Company ES collaborator David Mayer [2], of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, outlines “Why Your Hiring Process Keeps Missing Candidates' Character Flaws [3].”

We at Ethical Systems talk a lot about hiring for ethics and culture, as opposed to hiring for skills and personality, during the interview process. The reason is that the dialogue between employer and potential employee is wrought with miscues, overestimations, hyperbole and a reliance on presenting the best possible version of oneself. In addition, research by ES collaborator Nick Epley [4], and cited in the Fast Company piece, highlights how we are actually less reliable than we may think when it comes to identifying deceits and spotting potential bad apples.

Mayer offers a number of actionable tips that companies can immediately implement to strengthen their teams. Mayer suggests that companies should promote instances of exceptional ethics instead of only spotlighting ethical mishaps- a notion that is further supported by research for consideration by both ethics professors [5] and C&E officers [6]. Cultivating a solid business reputation through establishing and promoting your company’s ethical culture, in addition to enhanced brand value, means companies will attract better, more ethical, candidates when openings are available.

Further, by structuring the interview to emphasize ethics and understand the interviewees’ behavioral and temperamental tendencies, companies can better anticipate how new hires will fit into the overall company environment. Therefore, as Mayer states, “it's important to ask questions that can help you find out whether ethics is a skill they've habituated.”

Looking out for whether someone is guilt-prone is also an important quality that transcends organizational ethics and is can surprisingly be an asset for the company. Citing, Carnegie Mellon professor Taya Cohen’s research, Mayer writes, “The guilt-prone employee doesn’t need to be policed. She will act ethically because of her character." Other studies likewise show this type of employee is more likely to stay committed to the organization [7].”

HR managers, C&E directors, executives and others should heed the recommendations in this article, as all have a direct role to play in shaping the reputation, culture and values of a successful business.

*image courtesy of Fast Company


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